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How to sell a cluttered home

Dear Phyllis,
My mother wants to sell her home and move to senior housing in Orange County to be near my brother and his children. She has been in her home for more than 30 years and the amount of clutter she has collected is unbelievable.  Not only is the garage filled to capacity, but the surfaces in most rooms as well. I have tried to go through one area at a time with her but she is reluctant to part with much.
Do you have any suggestions?

Dear Jamie,
We both know that she will sell her home for more money if she simply declutters. If the money is not a priority, perhaps it will be easier for her (emotionally) to sell the home in its present cluttered condition.

Get her home listed with a real estate agent and have them prepare a marketing plan and calendar. As many home buyers and their agents will be reluctant to make comments about the home in front of your mom, perhaps she could go out of town for a week to 10 days.

Have your real estate agent hold several open houses during this period. Don’t allow showings via lockbox … your Realtor® will need to accompany each viewing, so that buyers and their Realtor® can see past the clutter. Currently there is so little on the market that if the home is well priced, you should be able to sell it while your mom is out of town (and spare her feelings at the same time).

If your mother wants/needs to sell the home for the highest possible price, then the clutter has to go; there is no way around that. Perhaps some of the grandkids can come and talk grandma out of some of her treasures. If there is a charity near and dear to her heart, you might be able to convince her to donate. Or perhaps you can convince her into moving most of it into a storage unit or pod. The pod could be kept on premises, which might reassure her of her belongings safety. You are in a difficult situation and I know it is hard; best of luck to you.


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Phyllis Harb is a Realtor® with Prudential California Realty.
She may be contacted at (818) 790-7325 or by email